Amstelveen: a new home for Canon

Amstelveen is the location of Canon’s operational headquarters for Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), and employs around 650 people from 50 different nationalities. Although the company is Japanese, its international reach means that everyone at the plant uses English to communicate. The site manager and vice president of business operations (EMEA) is Jan-Ton Prinsze.

“The Amsterdam Area attracts a diverse range of talent from around the world,” he says, “and it is a good location for doing business with the rest of the EMEA region. Amsterdam Airport Schiphol is just 13 kilometers away, and all the logistics and operational support for Canon in the EMEA region are planned from Amstelveen.”

Jan Ton of Canon

Continuing, he explains that, “From the Netherlands, Canon distributes to 120 markets in 30 different countries. However, it isn’t just the location that is appealing. The fact-based, data-driven, rational approach is very Japanese. But it is very Dutch at the same time. The focus on quality and longer-term orientation is very applicable to Japanese companies in general; and the international environment, particularly in this region, is very attractive.”

Helping the Amsterdam community thrive

Canon encourages involvement in the local community through participating in activities and maintaining a good relationship with the municipality and other stakeholders. It follows a philosophy first popularised by the former chairman of Canon Inc., Ryuzaburo Kaku. In Japanese, it’s known as kyosei or “working and living together for the common good.” Canon believes whatever good it does for society is ultimately good for the company, and that kyosei has helped the company grow into the successful multinational corporation that it is today. 

Prinsze notices that Amstelveen has also become a home away from home for Japanese expats. “I think one of the reasons why the Japanese community likes this area is because of the facilities – medical facilities, educational facilities – such as the International School of Amsterdam – shops, good restaurants (even Japanese ones), work-life balance, housing…It’s all these kinds of things that make it enjoyable for the Japanese to live here. In general, it’s a good life.”

Planning for Canon's future in the city

The design and manufacture of traditional SLR cameras and office printers remains the lion’s share of the company’s portfolio. However, Canon recognises that it must diversify its interests if it is to remain relevant in the fast-moving technological age. It has acquired companies such as Milestone Systems to develop camera surveillance technology through image-processing software.

More recently, it also acquired Toshiba Medical to add to the existing Canon Medical healthcare-focused business. It provides specialist lenses (OLED) for use in a wide variety of industrial products. Through the acquisition of Océ in 2009, Canon is also a strong player in the field of commercial printing.

Prinsze says it’s about applying Canon’s core strengths to new and exciting business areas. “Of course, we recognise the impact of smartphones, for sure. But Canon has laid out a strategic plan to ensure that in the long term, we will respond to those implications by adding new business areas to our existing portfolios, such as life sciences, security and other areas where we can use our core technology. Ultimately, you will see a shift, but the camera market is still very important to us and we will continue to make significant investment there as well as in new areas.” As for Amstelveen, Prinsze says Canon and its workforce are very happy there. 

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